The Hedonic Treadmill (Ep. 226)

Have you ever noticed that as certain things become better or worse, your overall happiness doesn’t seem to change very much?

Well, you’re not alone. The hedonic treadmill, or hedonic adaptation, may be to blame.

It basically means that our expectations and desires in life respond in part to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. So if you make more and more money, your lifestyle will simply change to require and expect that money, and you won’t feel nearly as excited about it a year after your big raise.

On the other hand, if you completely fail an exam you may be devastated this week, but after a little while you’ll likely not even remember the exam without prompting (unless it was particularly traumatic).

So what can we do with this? Can we actually become happier, or is everything less useful than we had hoped?

I’m confident we can — it just means we’ll have to approach things a little differently than usual.

Things mentioned in this episode:

This week’s episode is sponsored by:

  • Hover: Your personal brand is important, and it starts with your domain name. Get 10% off your first domain name purchase by going to
  • Todoist: If you’re a student or educator, you can get Todoist’s awesome Premium features – like project templates and automated reminders – for 50% off at

Other things we mentioned in this episode:

Want more cool stuff? You can find all sorts of great tools at my Resources page.


  • 0:04:25 – Happiness, being grateful and living in the moment
  • 0:23:34 – Replacing annoying activities with fulfilling ones
  • 0:29:01 – Harmful habits that you may think are increasing your happiness
  • 0:31:15 – Sponsor: Hover (Buying a domain name)
  • 0:33:59 – Sponsor: Todoist (Managing your tasks)
  • 0:36:05 – Valuing the limited time you have and using some of it to have fun
  • 0:49:11 – Taking big breaks every once in a while
  • 0:52:30 – Recap and conclusion

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The Hedonic Treadmill

Martin Boehme is a web developer, language nerd, and Nintendo fanboy. Talk to him in English, Spanish, French, or very basic Japanese on Twitter.

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